By Justina Tran
There’s no doubt that inflated gas prices have had a noticeable impact on our wallets, but the cost of refining and burning fossil fuels goes much further than our pocketbooks. Excess carbon emissions are a major detriment to our environment. Our indulgent fossil fuel usage has caused a buildup of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide and methane, in the atmosphere, which has resulted in the disruption of ecosystems and the endangerment of innumerable forms of life. At the rate of our current fossil fuel consumption, future generations are at risk of living in a world plagued by severe, unpredictable weather patterns and the continued destruction of habitats.
So what kind of alternatives do we have to fuel our vehicles, without creating additional problems for our environment? Cars are seemingly our first pick for transportation, but gasoline is no longer the only source of available power. Innovations within the past decade have proven that there are now a number of options for those of us who don’t want to get from point A to point B at Mother Earth’s expense.
Shocking Savings with Electric Fuel
Did you know that the total cost to fully charge an electric car is a mere $2 to $4? The average cost of one gallon of gas in America is currently $3.56, and it continues to rise! One single charge from conventional family-sized cars can last approximately 100 miles, although actual mileage per charge may vary depending on the size of the battery. For most drivers, 100 miles is more than enough to last a day. The length of time it takes to complete a charge, from 30 minutes to 14 hours, also differs according to the size of the battery. Average electric vehicle prices range from $20,000-35,000, with makes and models for every budget.
Gasoline’s Friendlier Cousin
We use natural gas in our daily lives to heat our stoves and warm our houses, but natural gas is also a clean alternative for fueling natural gas vehicles, or NGVs. Besides helping America free itself from dependence on foreign oil, natural gas is safer and cheaper than liquid gas. In a car accident, natural gas dissipates into the air. On the other hand, gasoline’s flammability makes it relatively less safe. Natural gas also has the benefit of being significantly easier on the wallet; fueling up with natural gas saves $1.50 to $2 less per gasoline gallon equivalent.
Leave No Footprints with Hydrogen
The biggest issue with fossil fuels is the monstrous carbon trail that’s left behind after it’s burned. But what if dangerous car emissions became a thing of the past? With the introduction of hydrogen-powered vehicles onto the roads, what was once an ambitious concept is now a reality. Automakers like Hyundai, Honda, and Toyota have all made announcements to introduce hydrogen-powered cars to the U.S. by 2015, or earlier. In California, hydrogen-powered cars hit the market in June, in response to California legislators who are pushing car companies to produce cars with a smaller impact on the environment. With water vapor as the only chemical byproduct, the recent push for cleaner sources of car fuel may make hydrogen-powered cars the biggest threat to fossil fuel companies, and our safest bet for a greener Earth.
Now that you’ve read about some alternatives, how do you think you can modify your transportation habits?